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The illegal wildlife trade
is a key driver…

of the current extinction crisis, particularly for species such as pangolin, rhino, tiger and elephants – so investigating, disrupting and eliminating criminal trafficking networks and strengthening law enforcement is essential for the survival of these endangered species.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Pangolins have the unfortunate title of ‘the world’s most trafficked mammal’, and a staggering 328 tonnes of pangolin scales were seized by 2017-2021 alone (and this is likely only a small fraction of the actual trade).

Artwork by Corinne Zollinger
The threats of Pangolin Trade

If poaching and the illegal trade can’t be tackled, pangolins could be wiped out within a decade.

Will Riley
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

It is thought that more than ten million pangolins have been taken from the wild in Africa and Asia in the last decade, mostly because of poaching and the illegal trade to supply meat for both subsistence and as a delicacy, and for the use of scales in traditional medicines.

We fund policy research, intelligence and investigations, and advocacy work on the global illegal Pangolin Trade, with a focus on Southeast Asia and China, and West and Central African as the most important origin and transition points of pangolin trafficking.

Nigeria is a key export point for the illegal trade to Asia and we fund investigations into trafficking networks there and in neighboring Cameroon, another major trafficking hub.  Our partners on the ground work closely with the criminal justice system in Nigeria to do more to combat the illegal trade in pangolins, and cooperate with enforcement agencies to increases awareness of smuggling methods and routes, and to provide training.

The intelligence gathered has led to several key arrests, disrupting supply chains and trafficking networks and therefore protecting pangolin populations in the region. The investigations have also provided key insights into how African and Asian organised-crime groups are functioning to source, consolidate and export pangolin scales from a wide area of East, Central and Southern African.   This has given us a greater understanding of the methodology of wildlife traffickers (for example, the means of payments used by traffickers, their preferred means of concealment for maritime shipments, etc.). This in turn allows governments and NGOs to strategically plan advocacy, law enforcement and demand elimination interventions to disrupt and end the illegal global pangolin trade.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Only approximately 4,000 tigers remain in the wild and they are now extinct across may counties formerly part of their range, including Cambodia and Vietnam.

Artwork by Simone Mulas
The threats of Tiger Trade

The main threat to tigers is the poaching of them for their body parts, fueled by a luxury demand.  Almost 2,500 tigers have been seized in the illegal trade in the last two decades, and that is a likely a fraction of the true extent of the trade.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

There are also thought to be over 8,000 tigers in captivity in Southeast Asia and South Africa.  These ‘farmed’ tigers are killed for the body parts such as skin, bones, teeth, and claws.

DSWF funds crucial investigations across South-east Asia into the illegal trade into tiger parts, and we advocate for the closure of captive tiger facilities.  Our ground-based partners document key persons of interest in the trade, identify key trafficking routes, map captive tiger facilities of particular concern, share key information such as how tiger parts are concealed and transported, and track financial flows linked to the illegal trade.  All of this information is then used to produce intelligence reports and to map criminal networks, which is then shared with law enforcement agencies, intergovernmental organisations, and the private sector.  The information generated is also used to advocate with national governments and with international conventions such as CITES for strengthened laws and policies to tackle the tiger trade.

Investigations funded by DSWF have led to a series of arrests of key players in the tiger trade, and many such individuals have been equally active in the pangolin, rhino horn and ivory trade too.   Work with the financial sector has also meant that banks and financial institutions are aware of the dynamics of the tiger trade, the risks they are exposed to regarding trafficking networks moving money through them, and what they can do to prevent it.

Help us fund vital investigation work

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Trade in Pangolins

Pangolins have been classified as the world’s most trafficked mammal, with over a million thought to have been poached from the wild in the last decade. Captured to fuel increasing demand from China and Vietnam, the illicit trade in pangolin meat, scales and body parts is driving this 80-million-year-old species to the brink of extinction. Find out more about the trade in pangolins here.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Trade in Tigers

In the last 100 years, tigers have lost 96% of their historical range with only around 4,000 remaining in the wild. The increasing demand for tiger skins and derivatives has pushed this iconic species to the brink of extinction. Find out more about the tiger trade here.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Wildlife Law Enforcement

Effective law enforcement is critical to tackling wildlife crime and requires intelligence-led initiatives and the deployment of trained individuals with the resources and equipment to face well-armed poachers and trafficking gangs. Find out more about what DSWF is doing to support wildlife law enforcement.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Will Fortescue

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